Tonight is a sad night for everyone. Even for people who don’t know it. Well actually, the people who don’t know it, have been living a little bit sadder of a life than those of us who know what we are about to lose tonight. But if those people knew what they were losing they would be sad too. Although maybe not as sad, because they will be able to binge watch what those of us with taste have been addicted to for the last 6 years. Have I confused you enough yet? Good, because I want everyone reading this to be as confused as I am. And the reason I am confused is because I do not understand why we are about to lose Justified. There’s just no justification for it.
For those of you that don’t know what Justified is, I could describe it in so many ways. I think the best way to do it though is to say it is the best written show with spot on casting that has ever been on television that was not created by Aaron Sorkin and starred Martin Sheen and Rob Lowe. Seriously, with the exception of The West Wing, I don’t know that I have ever watched a show that has had me more engrossed and singing it’s praises.
The show has gone unnoticed by so many, mainly because everybody thinks it’s a western. It’s not. Yes the hero, or sorta hero, of the show wears boots and a Stetson. Yes, there are gunfights. Yes there is a backwoods feel. But it’s not a Western. It’s a drama, as much as any other show can be limited to just one word. It’s got it’s funny moments. It’s got love stories. It’s got explosions. It’s got it all and it’s got it all done at it’s finest.
The show is based on a short story written by Elmore Leonard, and focuses on Raylan Givens, a U.S. Marshall who after a botched incident in Florida is reassigned to his hometown in the backwoods of Kentucky. Which may not sound like a bad thing, but in Raylan’s case it is. Mainly because his family was not made up of law abiding citizens as much as they were made up of drug runners, smugglers and other low life. So Raylan is the perfect Marshall to come to Kentucky to clean it up. Well, not so much perfect, since Raylan is not so much a by the book lawman, he’s an outlaw lawman. And as played by Timothy Olyphant he is the most perfect guy. Women want to sleep with him. Men want to have a beer with him. And everyone wants to look half as cool as he does in jeans, boots, and a Stetson hat.
The protagonist that we follow throughout the show is Boyd Crowder, played with such charm and depth by Walton Goggins that you don’t even mind that he is a bad guy. And by bad guy I mean killer, drug dealer, explosive expert, and Raylan’s high school friend. Crowder is romantically attached to Ava Crowder, not his wife but ex-sister-in-law. Hey, it’s Kentucky, let’s just be glad he’s not romantically linked to his cousin. Ava, as played to perfection by Joelle Carter, is your typical troubled woman with a heart of gold. Well typical if the typical troubled woman with a heart of gold killed her abusive husband, ran a trailer of ill repute (again it is Kentucky), smuggled drugs, did time in prison and became a confidential informant on her boyfriend. Oh, did I mention she was Raylan’s high school sweetheart.
I really don’t think I could begin to describe the show and do it justice, so I’m not going to try to talk about what happens in the show. But I will tell you that the writing is on a level that every other show on television today aspires to be. Why it has not won every frigging Emmy out there is beyond me. Seriously, while Brian Cranston and the producers of Breaking Bad were snagging up all the hardware, Olyphant and gang were doing work that was beyond belief and getting snubbed because they were making a “western.” The dialogue is smart, fast paced and believable. All traits that are hard to find on your standard show today. Goggins and Olyphant have some exchanges with each other that I can only describe as Backwoods Shakespearean. Seriously people, stop reading this and start bingeing this stuff now.
Beyond Olyphant, Goggins and Carter, the casting for the show goes beyond wonderful. Margo Martindale won an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress, one of the two Emmys the show has won. Her role as Mags Bennett will have you terrified to ever even consider drinking apple pie moonshine again. Jeremy Davies won a Best Guest Actor Emmy as Dickie Bennett, a character some might describe as comic relief, but he is so much more. Other amazing turns on the show have been given by Nick Searcy, Natalia Zea, Erica Tazel, Jacob Pitts, Rick Gomez and Kaitlyn Dever. Jere Burns, someone known for being a comic genius gives a tour de force performance throughout the show as Wynn Duffy. Raymond J. Barry is amazing as Raylan’s father. Patton Oswalt, plays a bumbling county justice officer that has a fantastic sense of depth to him. I could keep going on listing the people who have had great turns on this show, Michael Rapaport, Neal McDonough, Mary Steenburgen, Sam Elliott, Alicia Witt, Garret Dillahunt, People the list is amazing and all of their performances are on a whole new level of great acting. Get to watching already!
The first two seasons were without a doubt the best. The third season was a little off, but only because no one could compare to the season’s big bad from season two (Martindale as Mags). During season four they were back on their game. Season five was good, but really seemed to be spending more time setting us up for the final season. This season has the show back to greatness and makes me, and many other even sadder to see it go.
Speaking of which, it has started and I need to watch it. Or maybe not. If I refuse to watch the final season than that means it never ends. Right? Right? Please someone tell me I am right.